Workouts & Exercises

Why You Should Be Doing the Superwoman Workout

We first came across the ‘Superman’ in Beachbody’s runaway-hit, home workout series called P90X. But when we dug a little deeper into the exercise, we realized that Tony Horton did not come up with it. Superman has been around for much longer.

Also, we don’t want to sound sexist. So we are going to call it ‘The Superwoman’ in this blog post. Cause why not! 

Superwoman can do with toned abs and a perky butt too.

The superwoman workout, (not to be confused with the wonder woman workout) is an amazing bodyweight exercise that offers some real benefits that even your favorite, hyped machine-exercises in the gym don’t offer.

Moreover, this is a workout with a no entry barrier. Anyone can do it, regardless of their expertise or age or sex.

If you have seen photos of your favorite IG influencer lying down on the ground and aping the famous Super (wo) man pose, then that sums it up for you. Here’s why this exercise is finding favor amongst the gurus.


What Is The Superwoman Workout?

What is the superwoman workout all about

The Superwoman is core and lower back exercise that performed on the floor. You don’t need any special equipment. You lie on the ground and imagine that you are flying through Metropolis trying to save distressed folks in need of a messiah. 

Seriously, that’s all it takes.

At first glance, the Superwoman looks like a cakewalk. How difficult can it be to lie on the ground and raise your arms? Like all difficult exercises, looks can be deceptive.

We bet that flying through metropolis is more fun. The Superwoman is not. After a few seconds, you’ll regret that you wished to be superwoman in the first place.

That’s because the move will put your lower back, the gluteus Maximus, the scapulae, the shoulders and the erector spine muscles on fire.

That’s almost a compound move.


How to Do the Superwoman Workout, Step by Step

The superwoman workout is one of the easiest workouts to learn

This has to be one of the easiest workouts to learn, even if you are a rank newbie. Here’s how you can masterfully pull this off even in the first attempt.

Place an exercise mat on the ground. Lie on it with your belly on the mat and your arms outstretched in front of you, like you are ready to dive into a pool.

The neck should be neutral and your forehead should be placed on the mat.

The arms should be shoulder width apart and lined with your shoulders. The legs must be stretched out with no bend in the knees.

Slowly lift up the arms and the legs at the same time, balancing your body on the belly.

Lift it only a few inches, or as much as you can comfortably without hyperextending the lumbar spine. You will resemble a canoe from a distance.

Hold for 2-3 seconds and lower the arms and legs back to the ground.

Keep breathing while you are holding the position.

That’s one rep. You can either perform 10-12 reps, or try to increase the time that you hold the position for. Somewhat like a plank.

Here is a video of how to do this exercises:


Muscles Worked By The Superwoman Workout

This exercise works a number of muscles in the body

The Superwoman is one of the best bodyweight workouts for the lower back and core. In fact, it is used as a strengthening exercise for the abdominal muscles and the hamstrings, which increase stability in the pelvis and hips.

Here are some of the primary and secondary muscles that it engages.


Erector Spinae 

Erector Spinae are some of the main muscles targeted by this workout

The erector spinae is a set of muscles in your lower back that include the longissimus, iliocostalis & the spinalis. These three muscles are vital for healthy and pain-free lower back extension. But the fact that chronic lower back pain is an endemic around the world sums it up. People neglect spinal health, until they cannot. Picture bending to pick a heavy object off the ground and then feeling an acute bout of pain shooting up from the back. The Superwoman makes that go away.


Glutes & Hams 

Glutes and hamstring can also be recruited with this workout

Along with the lower back, you are going to feel this in your glutes and hams. It may not help you gain size, mind you. But it will strengthen the muscle and add some tone to the glutes. Superwoman with a perky booty!


Upper back & Shoulders 

The superwoman workout is also effective for shoulder and upper back muscles

You are going to feel this in your shoulders and upper back. The Superwoman gives the upper back and shoulder muscles some much needed stretching, which will improve your range of motion, allowing you to lift better, during your resistance exercises for these muscles. Other exercises that work the same muscles area include alternating dumbbell press and the seated tricep press.


Benefits of the Superwoman Workout

Superwoman workout has several benefits

There are many reasons why the Superwoman is one of the most popular exercises today.


Equipment Free

One cool thing about this exercise is that no equipment is needed

You don’t need any equipment, except for a mat to perform the Superwoman. So it’s as budget-friendly and convenient as it gets.


Spinal Health

Superwoman workout is also ideal for a healthy spine

The Superwoman targets some of the vital, but neglected muscles in our body. Be it for spinal support, preventing injury, or just improving your form in resistance exercises, strengthening the core is the key. Other exercises that have this benefit include wall angels, Zottman curls and the military press.


Compound Move

The one cool thing about this workout is its compound move nature

The Superwoman is a compound exercise that involves multiple muscles of the core and the legs.


Great for Beginners

This workout is great for both beginners and seasoned fitness lovers

Even a rank beginner can learn and pull this exercise off in seconds. You don’t need to be a ‘Guru’ to be a superhero.


Superwoman Exercise Variations

There are several variations to this workout

One of the things that we like about the Superwoman is that there’s no dearth of variations. There are simple modifications which make the exercise easier, as well as allow you to target specific muscles instead of multiple ones.


#1 – The Prone Cobra

The prone cobra is one of the easiest variation of this exercise

The Prone Cobra is a simple variation of the Superwoman, that takes some of the lower body muscles out of the exercise and instead, shifts focus to the shoulders and upper back. If you sit on a chair and clack away on a computer all day, or are glued to a mobile phone, this exercise can restore your posture and save you from a condition called ‘Kyphosis’.

How to Do the Exercise

The prone cobra is a snap to pull off when done right

Lie face-down on the mat exactly like you did for the Superwoman

Turn your palms over so that the thumbs face the ceiling and move the hands 5-6 inches away from the body

Now lift up your chest, maintaining the neutral position of your neck all the time

Brace the core and squeeze the shoulders as you lift the chest up.

At the top position, tuck in the neck allowing your neck to elongate

Now lower the chest back to the ground.

Here is a video of how to do the prone cobra:

Muscles Worked

Neck muscles are among the most worked with superwoman exercise

The Prone Cobra is essentially the Superwoman without the lower body muscles. It still does engage the hamstrings and glutes. But not as much as the Superwoman does.

  • Instead you shift focus to the upper body.
  • Lower Trapezius
  • Rhomboids
  • Spinal erectors
  • Neck

#2 - Alternating Leg Superwoman

The alternating arm and leg variation is good for those with lower back issues

If you have chronic lower back pain and want to avoid the Superwoman, due to potential niggles, then you can try the Alternating arm & leg Superwoman.

How to Do the Exercise

The alternating leg is done with a single arm and leg, then the other pair

This is essentially the Superwoman, performed with one arm and leg, instead of both at the same time.

The setup is exactly the same and so are the steps. The only difference is that you raise one arm and one leg at a time.

You can also keep the legs stationary on the mat and only raise one arm at a time.

There’s numerous ways to tweak this, to suit your goals.

Here is a video showing how to do the alternating leg superwoman exercise:

Muscles Worked

The hamstring is one of the several muscles worked with this exercise

Instead of attempting a compound move, the one arm Superwoman allows you to isolate some of the muscles involved in the exercise. Depending on which variation of the exercise you perform, here are the muscles that you will engage.

  • Rhomboids
  • Glutes
  • Spinal Erectors
  • Neck
  • Hamstrings
  • Abdominal Muscles

Alternative Exercises to the Superwoman Exercise

There are several alternatives to this workout

Lower back pain can limit your range of motion, and in some cases, even prevent you from being able to perform the Superwoman fully. Here are some great alternative exercises that also target the same muscle groups, with the focus on the Spinal Erectors.

#1 – Standing Superwoman

The standing superwoman workout is great for taking the strain off the spine and lower back

The Standing Superwoman is an isometric move that will target all the muscles in your spinal column, which pretty much ticks all the boxes that the Superwoman does.

How to Do the Exercise

standing superwoman exercise visualized

As implied by the name, this is a standing exercise, rather than a floor exercise.

Stand straight with a neutral spine and your feet on a flat surface, about shoulder width apart

Hinge at the waist and lean forward, raising your right leg off the ground until it is parallel with the floor, at a right angle.

Your neck should be in a neutral position with the eyes facing the floor.

Raise your left arm until it is in line with your ears. You will resemble a T in this position. The palm can be facing downwards or sideways.

Count till 5 and then lower the arm and the leg.

Repeat with the opposite leg and arm. That’s one rep.

Continue for 8-10 reps.

Muscles Worked

The standing variation of this workout recruits several muscles
  • Spinal erectors
  • Scapulae
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Hip Flexors
  • Stabilizers

#2 – Glute Bridge

The glute bridge is also a great isometric workout

The Glute Bridge is another excellent isometric exercise for the hamstrings and erector spinae. It is often used by Physiotherapists as a remedial exercise for postural problems. It strengthens the lower back, which means that it can also help with weak lower back muscles.

How to Do the Exercise

The glute bridge is done lying on the upper back with the knees at 45-degree angle

The Glute Bridge is a floor exercise just like the Superwoman. The difference is that you will be lying on your back instead of face-down.

Lie on your back on the mat and bend your knees at about 45-degrees.

Your feet should be flat on the ground now.

Raise your hips towards the ceiling, maintaining the feet and the shoulders on the floor. The neck remains in a neutral position as does your head.

Only the hip and the abdomen should move.

Brace your core as you hold the position. The hip should be lined with the chest and the knees. Do not overextend the hips or allow it to sink/slouch as you hold the position.

Do the lift with the hips and not by driving your feet into the ground.

Continue breathing and hold for a 5-10 count.

Lower to the start position.

Here is a video of how to do glute bridges:

Muscles Worked

With the glute bridge you can work glutes, abdominal musles, calves, etc

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